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Microsoft Research Connections Blog

The Microsoft Research Connections blog shares stories of collaborations with computer scientists at academic and scientific institutions to advance technical innovations in computing, as well as related events, scholarships, and fellowships.

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    New online Windows Azure training for researchers

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    The global Windows Azure for Research program has been going strong for almost six months, and we’ve been delighted by the response from the researchers around the world who have eagerly attended our in-person training events. Today, we are pleased to announce an online version of the training.

    Now any researcher can learn how to harness the power of Windows Azure—an open and flexible global cloud platform that supports any language, tool, or framework, and is ideally suited to the needs of researchers across disciplines. Think of it as your personal, data-crunching robot in the cloud.

    On-demand training for data-intensive computing

    The in-person training classes have taught hundreds of researchers how to take advantage of the computational and collaborative power of Windows Azure for data-intensive investigations. The online class provides a condensed version of this training, customizable for a personalized learning plan and complemented by the in-depth content in our webinar series.

    The online materials now available include six videos, which range from 10 to 20 minutes long. Together, they provide a comprehensive but highly efficient way to learn how to use Windows Azure for research. Anyone with an Internet connection can access these free training resources—anywhere, anytime, on demand.

    A live class is still recommended as the most effective way to learn how to use Windows Azure for research because it provides the benefits of an experienced trainer, interactive dialogue, and greater depth. But not everyone can attend a class, so we hope the online course will enable even more researchers to explore how cloud computing can accelerate their research. For those interested in attending an in-person training course, please see the training schedule for 2014.

    The training course, online or in-person, is intended specifically for active scientists who are interested in coding in a modern computing context, as well as for computer scientists who are working with such researchers.

    Before you race off to view the online training videos, I want to remind you about the Windows Azure for Research Awards, which offer a one-year allocation of Windows Azure storage and compute resources to winning proposals. The deadline for submitting proposals for the next round of awards is April 15, so don’t procrastinate.

    Dan Fay, Director, Science Research Engagements, Microsoft Research

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Getting back to first principles with eScience in the Cloud workshop

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    As I prepare for the upcoming eScience in the Cloud workshop, I keeping coming back to what might sound like an obvious statement—even in these times when we’re trying to tackle hugely complex issues, like understanding climate change, and we are coping with heterogeneous data in volumes not previously encountered: as with life, science always finds a way. Okay, I’m paraphrasing from Jurassic Park, but you take my meaning.

    Facing these complex issues will involve working together—multiple research disciplines collaborating across multiple institutions, across multiple sectors of business, nonprofit, and government. A tall order? Certainly—but, with cooperation and communication, one that is tractable (notice I did not say easy). I hope to see that conversation continue at this workshop.

    Further your data-intensive research

    Yes, we are coping with massive data sets and have the means to collect and share them. Processing big data takes massive compute power; fortunately, compute power grows and becomes increasingly accessible every day. Visualizing data for exploration is critical—and never have I seen more tools to visualize and explore data than of late.

    The reason I call this blog “Getting back to first principles” is that many of the topics we will discuss at the eScience in the Cloud 2014 workshop were topics also discussed at Microsoft SciData 2004, our original eScience event, held some 10 years ago.

    Sure, the stakes and the availability of tools and compute resources seem higher (don’t they always?), yet the topics and goals are much the same: how we can use technology (in this case, the cloud) to expedite scientific discoveries. This is why, when my co-chair and colleague, Dennis Gannon (formerly an academic attendee) pulled the event together, he and I reviewed feedback from previous eScience events and focused on answering these fundamental questions: how is Microsoft going to help? and what resources can we make available?

    Like SciData 2004, the upcoming event will feature not only academics discussing their solutions to compute problems in science, but also Microsoft researchers from a variety of disciplines talking about how you can use their tools to reach your objectives. Even the product teams are becoming involved. They will demonstrate how some of their new offerings—many freely available—can help researchers achieve their goals.

    I hope you will join us April 29–30, at the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond, Washington, to find out how to further your research in the cloud-computing age. Learn more about the event and register.

    If you can arrive a day earlier, we’re holding a one-day training event that teaches how to use Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform, for research. This April 28 event is part of the Windows Azure for Research program.

    Kristin Tolle, Director of Environmental Science Infrastructure Development, Microsoft Research Connections

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  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    2014 Microsoft Research Awards for SEIF announced

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    Microsoft Research Awards for the Software Engineering Innovations Foundation (SEIF Awards)With the announcement of the 2014 winners of the Microsoft Research Awards for the Software Engineering Innovations Foundation (SEIF), I can’t help but reflect on the depth and breadth of research supported by Microsoft Research. Over the past few years, SEIF has not only sponsored research into core software engineering challenges but has also funded investigations into software engineering’s applications in mobile and cloud computing and natural user interface (NUI). This year was no exception to the this emphasis on depth and breadth: for 2014, SEIF invited proposals addressing core software engineering challenges as well as those that delving into the application of software engineering to the Internet of Things and large-scale cloud infrastructure. These latter two areas were explored as a partnership between Lab of Things and Global Foundation Services, respectively.

    Before I reveal the 2014 winners, let me say a bit about the diversity and quality of the proposals. We received 129 proposals, coming from nearly 30 countries and every continent (okay, except Antarctica). SEIF has truly become an internationally recognized program! Some 70 reviewers from across Microsoft conducted an internal review of the proposals, all of which were of exceedingly high quality. It was extremely difficult to choose the 12 winning projects, each of which will receive funding of US$40,000.

    Here, then, are the 2014 recipients of this Microsoft Research Award:

    • Linking Constructive and Analytical Software Verification
      Michael Butler, University of Southampton
    • Script Synthesis through Examples
      Ruzica Piskac, Yale University
    • Dependency Aware Sharing of the Internet of Things for Integrating Apps in Smart Homes
      Jack Stankovic, University of Virginia
    • Teaching Software Engineering to the Masses with TouchDevelop
      Alessandro Orso, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Improving Datacenter Efficiency and Total Cost of Ownership with Differentiated Software Reliability Analysis and Techniques
      Onur Mutlu, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Resource Efficient Cloud Computing
      Christoforos Kozyrakis, Stanford University
    • Augmenting Testing with Performance-Aware Behavioral Models
      Yuriy Brun, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Kinect-based Training to Improve Balance, Mobility, and Quality of Life in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
      Jeffrey Haddad, Purdue University
    • A Spreadsheet Model for End-User Programming with Probabilistic Data
      Scott Hudson, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Systematic Analysis of User Reviews and Usage Data for Windows Mobile Apps
      Walid Maalej, University of Hamburg
    • CoolProvision: Provisioning of Cooling Systems for Datacenters
      Thu Nguyen, Rutgers University
    • Reliable and Resilient Microgrids for Data Centers
      Reinaldo Tonkoski and Wei Sun,
      South Dakota State University

    Congratulations to the 2014 winners of this Microsoft Research Award! See the winners on the SEIF page.

    Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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